In 1876, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History established the National Firearms Collection in Washington, DC. It's the home to nearly 7,000 artifacts. Sixty-four of them are now on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West Firearms Exhibit. It's one of the largest collections of firearms to come out of the Smithsonian.
"It's for people who love firearms and know a lot about them and also for people who don't know a lot and would like to come in and learn why it's important to American history," says Ashley Lynn Hlebinsky, Firearms Curatorial Resident at the Buffalo Bills Center of the West Firearm Exhibit.
"Journeying West: Distinctive Firearms from the Smithsonian" is an exhibition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It was a carefully researched and planned out process that took Curator Warren Newman years to bring together.
"It kind of teaches what Newman has called, the other end of the gun, which is the person holding the gun and their story and how they faired when they were coming out west and the different ways they went about inventing different firearms for different purposes and so a lot of this exhibit showcases those people and their process with firearms," says Hlebinsky.
The final result is 64 significant historical firearms, national treasures, and one-of-a-kind artifacts, including a Jaeger Rifle that belonged to Catherine The Great.
"We have a huge range of patent firearms and those are the sketches and the guns that they would of had to submit to the patent office when they had a new invention," says Hlebinsky. Some made it production; others have been mass-produced since their debut, including the Winchester Rifle. "But it kind of shows the trial and error process that people had to go through and they get to see a lot of really interesting looking firearms that you might not see all of the time."
It's a chance to see firearms that are typically only on display at the Smithsonian Institution in the Nation's Capital. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West will be home to those 64 artifacts for three years.